"Going forward we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine the situation on the ground requires it," Mr. Obama said. "American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq but we will help Iraqis as they fight the terrorists."
The president also announced that he will be sending up to 300 military advisers to assist Iraqi security forces. He noted that the "best and most effective response" to the insurgents threatening Iraqi security will be a partnership with local Iraqi forces.
The president also said he has directed his team to "significantly" increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to give the U.S. a better picture of what is happening inside the country, and he has worked to secure U.S. embassy and other personnel operating inside of Iraq.
Mr. Obama's announcement comes after a Thursday morning meeting with his national security team and on the heels of a meeting with the top four leaders in Congress Wednesday evening, where he indicated he does not need additional congressional authorization for action in Iraq, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Prior to the announcement, the president had only ruled out the possibility of boots on the ground but had asked his national security advisers to prepare a range of other options for him. On Capitol Hill, he faces competing pressure from Democrats who are reluctant to get involved in Iraq again and Republicans who are calling for the use of air strikes to help stop the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
U.S. military aircraft, including war planes from the U.S.S. Bush, have already begun flying surveillance missions over Iraq, including Navy P-3s surveillance aircraft based in Bahrain that have been flying over Baghdad, reports CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told Congress this week that Iraq has asked for air strikes against the insurgents who now control much of Northern and Western Iraq.
So far, Dempsey said, the insurgents and Iraqi troops are "intermingled," making air strikes difficult. The U.S. is still attempting to close intelligence gapsbefore taking military or covert action. The Pentagon is now planning to send about 100 Army Green Berets to Iraq to serve as American eyes and ears on the ground, Martin reports -- that would not go into battle alongside Iraqi troops.
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